Scaling and root planing are procedures commonly used in the treatment and prevention of gum disease. The process is essentially a deep cleaning of your teeth that goes below the gumline to remove plaque and calculus, the source of the bacteria that causes gum disease.
If your dentist or periodontist has recommended scaling and root planing, you may be wondering how often you’ll need to have it done. The schedule may vary from one patient to another, but here’s what you can expect.
What is Scaling?
Scaling is the process of removing hardened plaque (calculus) from the roots of your teeth under your gums. When plaque builds up under the gumline and hardens into calculus, the bacteria it contains can infect the gum tissue, resulting in gum disease. Removing plaque and calculus is an important part of treating the infection and preventing it from recurring.
Local anesthesia may be used if the scaling process requires deep access below the gum tissue. This is for the comfort of the patient. Specialized dental tools are used in the scaling process.
What is Root Planing?
Root planing is the next step after scaling. The surface of your tooth roots are buffed until smooth, eliminating spaces for plaque to form under the gums and allowing the gum tissue to attach more firmly to the roots. Root planing helps to prevent gum disease from recurring.
What is Periodontal Maintenance?
Periodontal maintenance is the term used to describe a regular schedule for repeat scaling and root planing. Some patients will need regular periodontal maintenance to eliminate and prevent chronic gum disease. Others will only need scaling and root planing once, as long as they brush and floss their teeth effectively.
What Is the Typical Frequency of Periodontal Maintenance?
Most patients with gum disease will need periodontal maintenance at least every 3 months, or quarterly throughout the year. In more severe cases, a patient may need monthly deep cleanings. The schedule is based on the rate at which the patient develops plaque and calculus on the teeth.
Who Provides Periodontal Maintenance?
Periodontal maintenance is most commonly provided by a periodontist. Periodontists specialize in the support structures for the teeth, including the periodontal (gum) tissue. Through scaling, root planing, and other procedures, a periodontist can help treat existing gum disease and keep it from returning.
How Long Does it Take to Heal After Scaling and Root Planing?
After the gum tissue is pulled away from the roots during the scaling process, it can take a few months for the tissue to fully reattach to the roots of the teeth. Your gum tissue will heal in a matter of a few weeks where you will no longer feel any discomfort and swelling and inflammation will be relieved.
What Happens if Gum Disease Progresses?
If you don’t have your gum disease treated with scaling and root planing, you may experience chronic gum disease. As gum disease progresses without treatment it can cause damage to the teeth, gum tissue, and jaw bone. The teeth may become loose and even fall out from the lack of support structures.
Gum disease can be reversed and properly managed with regular periodontal maintenance and good oral hygiene practices in between appointments.
Why Choose Hudson Valley Periodontics & Implantology?
Gum disease does not have to be a chronic problem. It is treatable with the help of a skilled periodontist. Periodontal maintenance is the second line of defense against gum disease. The first line of defense begins at home with your own oral hygiene habits. Brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing once a day can eliminate the majority of the plaque that causes gum disease. Hudson Valley Periodontics & Implantology provides the professional treatment you need to keep gum disease at bay.